In these industrious times that we live in, proper rest is usually the first thing to go. We very often don’t get enough quality sleep at night and the ageless tradition of the mid-day siesta (or “power nap”) is simply not practical for most people. Granted, as we adhere to a first-rate nutrition and exercise program, we usually find that we require less sleep. But that doesn’t nullify our body’s need for a particular amount, especially if we’re engaged in any kind of rigorous training regimen like weightlifting.
As we rest, the body has a chance to repair and replenish itself, while the mind gets a well-needed break from the daily turbulence that it shoulders. We think more clearly and our bodies function at a higher level when we’re well rested. And as logical as all of this seems, most people are unaware of how to sleep properly
A Crash Course on Sleeping
Just as we’ve discussed optimal ways to breathe and eat, there are optimal ways to approach getting a good night’s rest. You will definitely want to try some of these ideas, because waking up fried and trying to get through the day on eight cylinders is tough to do when you’re not properly rejuvenated. Here are a few concepts to consider.
Darkness: Darkness is one of our brain’s main signals to produce the sleep hormone, melatonin. Being exposed to any kind of light during our sleeping cycle can disrupt this signal and affect the quality of our sleep. With this in mind, consider the following:
Bottom line? Sleep in the dark as much as possible. You’ll feel the difference. A case in point for me is my LA office/practice room. There are no windows in the place, so all I have to do is hit the lights and it goes pitch black, even in the middle of the afternoon. Sometimes I’ll hang out and work there for days at a time, living off of power naps as needed, and I’ve noticed that I get really good quality sleep there, largely because it’s so dark. Generally speaking, fewer hours of this kind of quality sleep will serve you better than a typical “full night’s rest” where intrusive lighting or sunlight is involved.
Ritual: There are a few other things you can do in advance of bedtime each night to promote an optimal night’s sleep. If you approach any combination of these things as a sort of nightly ritual, you have an excellent chance of consistently getting great rest.
Routine: From the “do as I say, not as I do” department, do your best each day to try and maintain a predictable sleeping pattern. Your circadian rhythm, or “body clock,” thrives on regularity and essentially times the release of all sleep-related hormones every night. When these patterns are interrupted, this rhythm is thrown off and a variety of unfavorable chemical reactions can occur, including jacked-up cortisol levels. So try to adhere to a particular bedtime schedule. Even if you’re not especially tired, go to bed and read (or engage in some other kind of relaxing activity…use your imagination!). This gets your body and mind on a schedule and in a set pattern of what to expect.
There is no doubt that some days this Rock-Solid sleep concept just isn’t going to happen. And while your superior nutrition and physical conditioning will kick in to compensate to some degree, a quick, 30-minute to one-hour nap can make all the difference. When this can’t happen, so be it, but just try to prioritize this rest/sleep principle a little higher the next day.
Bobby Rock is a seasoned health and fitness specialist and a renowned drummer, educator, producer and author of seven books. With certifications in personal training, nutrition and meditation, and a number of published writings on the subject of health and wellness, Bobby's unique approach to total mind/body fitness has gained him accolades among a wide cross-section of health enthusiasts. Check out www.rocksolidfitness.net for more info.
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